When friends are getting married in Marrakesh and make it a three-day long feast, then obviously you won’t decline the invitation when you receive one. Coincidentally, we had visited Marrakesh not long before that.
Morocco is not only a great holiday destination, it has exceptionally good surf spots as well. Essaouira is such a great surf spot, but also Taghazout, more to the south. I will blog again later about our surf experiences, but I will first discuss Marrakesh.
If we go on vacation, depending on the time and budget available, we choose a destination and determine the duration of the trip. Then I go all the way…..planning and booking the trip. On the day of departure, Reinier packs his bag (including his credit card) and lets himself surprise. According to Reinier, such trips are organised the Annemarie way…..well organised, but there are always a few uncertain surprises. Reinier, for example, prefers to book a rental car with Hertz or Avis, straightforward. But on vacation with me, he is standing at the end of the parking lot of Marrakesh Airport with two young lads. These guys run their “car rental company” from the trunk of a car.
The dented and scratched old lady next to us will be our car for the next couple of days. We can still choose whether we want navigation. We notice a bunch of fake TomTom’s piled up in the trunk of their car. Navigation not necessary, Google maps should be just fine. When we drive away from the parking lot, Reinier still has steam coming out of his ears haha. But I am completely happy with our old lady, especially because the other road users drive rather recklessly. Luckily, they didn’t even noticed the huge scratches that suddenly appeared on the front bumper of our car, while we had parked the car next to our accomodation. Sounds perfect to me!
Other example…..if we have returned the car and have to search for our riad in Marrakesh…..according to Reinier, this was also a huge “success”. The taxi driver suddenly stops in the middle of the city on a small little square. This doesn’t seem to be the right address to us. We have to get out and the taxi driver mutters something, but we have no clue. A very old man comes running down towards us with a handcart. The taxidriver puts our suitcases into the handcart. It becomes clear that the taxi driver can’t drive further into the city. We pay and with our fingers crossed we follow the old man. On his flip flops he navigates quickly through the increasing crowded public in the centre of the city. Reinier is not amused and he comes up with a battle plan.
Djemaa el Fna – Central square – Marrakesh
Meanwhile we arrive at the huge square in Marrakesh where the place is buzzing with people and we enter the narrow, busy streets of the souk. Reinier wants me to stay with the handcart and the man, in case someone will grab one of our suitcases, so that he can chase the thief. For better and for worse, we both try to keep walking next to the handcart, but because of the crowd it is not always possible.
We have already entered deep into the labyrinth and I fear that I can no longer find my way back. In a somewhat deserted alley, the man stops in front of a large wooden door and starts to unload the suitcases. No idea what we have to pay this man, so we bet on a nice tip. He does not complain and runs away, so we conclude it was sufficient (or far too much).
The large door is open and suddenly we step into a beautiful courtyard, an oasis of peace. A riad is basically a traditional Moroccan house or small palace with a large courtyard. Many of these houses have since been refurbished into small hotels. We stayed at Riad Villa Wengé. The many riads in Marrakesh are small and relatively inexpensive (there are big differences, but in the price range of €50-100 per night you have a pretty decent room). Practically all of the riads are located within the car-free centre of the city, a huge advantage.
At the time this was not always convenient for us, because the various locations of the wedding were just outside the city. The Ksar Char-Bagh and the Sahara Palace hotel are incredibly beautiful and super romantic (think hotel from the movie Sex & the City 2, which is literally situated a little further away). It was a beautiful wedding. If you are in Marrakesh for your honeymoon or other romantic affair, I suggest you spend some money and stay in one of these hotels.
If you are in Marrakesh, don’t forget to visit Palace Bahia. It has the look and feel of the Alhambra in Spain. It is a small palace in the middle of the city with rooms full of amazing mosaic and painted woodwork. All beauty and splendor. I love it, haha.
In Marrakesh you can’t skip the souk. It is a complex maze, where you can completely disappear. You can buy anything…..like eh…..well too much to mention. Make sure you know what you do or don’t want to buy and enjoy bargaining, otherwise you are lost. If you don’t feel like it, go to the Essemble Artisanal. You can find this place just outside the city centre, but it is easy to find. We simply walked. This complex is actually a workshop of all kinds of Moroccan workers and artists who make beautiful Moroccan art, clothing and other stuff. The Essemble Artisanal has been subsidized by the government and you may pay more than at the souk, but the money goes directly to the maker and bargaining is not necessary. In the middle is a small coffee bar where you can drink delicious coffee and mint tea.
Souk – Marrakesh
Oh and one more thing. Go to the hammam. Ask your riad which one you should visit. A lady (or man) will scrub you thoroughly and often you will receive a massage (depending on the package). After a number of busy days that is surely the icing on the cake.
If Marrakesh will be your next holiday destination, buy the one and only Lonely Planet Morocco via The Bookdepository and use this link. Or click on the book below to buy on Amazon.
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